Thursday, 28 October 2010

China Trip: Epilogue

On our way from Hong Kong to Gangzhou our host Peter Scherr takes over the train.
Teddy Kumpel takes a stance in Shenzen. This town is only about 30 years old and this arts zone in an old industrial park is really lovely. Plus there was a Starbucks within 5mins of our hotel. Perhaps that sounds pathetic but I do go to Italy a lot and as you know the coffee is pretty happening.
Back in Hong Kong, we're recording an album at Peter's house. He's built a fantastic studio there and we're working hard. Well not too hard that we don't enjoy he and his wife Cindy's hospitality. They live in a protected Animal Park strewn with domectic villages. Saw cows and dogs for the most part but today there was a monkey. Reminds me of a story from when I took a masterclass with Miles Davis alumni Dave Liebman. In an edgy and somewhat discouraging manner he told us that, "Even a monkey could learn to play the saxophone." Considering I bit my lip really bad at lunch,  I think this guy might be just the cat..errr candidate for the job.

China Trip 3

Our host Steven in Qing Dao. He is managing the coolest venue in China and has been an expat for more than 20 years. Hey, just like me except I can't speak Mandarin and I have developed this odd habit of adding 'W's' to my vowels. My brother has posted some video from our show which leads you to the venue Creative 100, the accompanying arts magazine Red Star 401 and the Tectonic Quartet!
Steven and his friend Wendy took us for a walk through the old Germantown. Qing Dao or Tsing Tao (a familiar name to all you beer drinkers) got handed over to the Japanese during the Treaty of Versailles. There was a student uprising and soon after the chinese reclaimed their city.

Along the beach were about a dozen couples getting their wedding photos taken. Check out the boat prop.
Tommy joins a wedding party. Pretty sly dude, so how was the banquet? What kind of beer did they serve. Oh...stupid question.
Now that's a piano! But what the hell is it doing in the domestic departure terminal at the airport? I feel for that pianist, or maybe ti was automated which makes one wonder, who sat in the red chairs?
Changsha has a hip venue called Freedom House which I posted about on FB a few days ago. Here's a shot of the view from nearby our hotel. It was a grim and damp morning. As you can see the buildings are looking pretty shabby and we saw some - only 10 years old - rusting from lack of upkeep. There sure appears to be a lot of veneer along with this economic boom. Like Ikea furniture, it looks good to start but after a while the lack of quality shows through. But I guess even Rockefeller Center would look drab if they didn't spit and polish it.
So while I wandered Changsha in search of coffee I found this sign nestled in the corner of a vast department store. What is jazz to the Chinese and will they embrace it and develop the patience to enjoy it's rewards? I'd say 'YES!' But we are paving the way over here folks. All I can tell you is that the people are friendly and kind, the services functional and the experience was one I'll never forget.
Thank you to everyone for making this tour happen and for supporting us along the way!!!

China Trip 2

A park in Hangzhou. Lots of folks wandering the gardens which were beautiful and a nice break from the urban density we had been exposed to for the previous days.

Then we went to Suzhou and had  a terrific stay which included  a much needed day off. Some of you may know of my debut CD 'Kingdom of Champa' and this kitchen shack reminded me of that trip. Enterprising folk making it happen where ever and when ever they can.

The Bookworm Cafe in Suzhou. Alexis our host manages a terrific space here. Intimate and friendly as it's name implies. After our set we jammed with a local band. Pretty much some of the funniest jazz I've ever heard in my life. It was recorded for posterity and may come to surface someday. Teddy and I ate some killing 'hotpot' and we had a terrific experience here.

An image from the Humble Ambassador Garden in Suzhou. Reminds me of Mac screensaver. Damn you Apple!!!
And another....

...just like Vegas!

China Trip

Here's Tommaso Cappellato and Peter Scherr (w/bass and phone) arriving in Guangzhou. Men were completely fascinated with the dble bass in this flight case. One guy just walked up and picked it up to see how heavy it was. We played a really cafe venue there. But the restaurant was my favorite. Teddy Kumpel got shots of the menu with some of the weirdest formed and unappetizing food I've ever seen. I stuck with the safe stuff, rice, pork and greens. This night I discovered that our audiences would probably sit on their hands. They don't clap for solos but really like it when the drummer plays fast licks. I think if i played with no taste and indifference to my fellow musicians I could have gotten over. It carried on like this until we got to Suzhou where everything changed for the better.
My first cab ride. They weren't as reckless as I expected. And I certainly have been through scarier trips in NYC. It's impossible to buckle up in the back seats. And what's up with the cage? David Wong met us in Guangzhou and was our translator and road manager for the tour. He did a superb job and thanks to Peter brining loads of gear we always had a good sound.
I thought this electrical situation in Shanghai made for a good subject. Tommaso and I found a terrific restaurant there but when i ordered the chicken knots I should have realized I was getting just the joints of the bird. Took me a long time to work through that dish but it was pretty darn good. I found the Shanghai Jazz Festival a disappointment. And the JZ club chain (we played one in Huangzhou, more about that later) didn't seem to nurture the music or support the visiting musicians. Man, am I complaining? Freaking's always something.

One of my favorite signs in Shanghai. It was here I realized that Starbucks was going to be my home away from home.
No doubt my best photo of the tour. These are blades for a giant windmill.